U.S. Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit Civil
Civil Rights – ADA
A PhD candidate’s failing an exam was not a pretext for disability discrimination.
“Mr. Novak points to several perceived faults in the faculty’s methodology. None of those alleged faults suggest anything other than an error in the course of a faculty member’s evaluation of the student’s work. Any lapse hardly supports the inference that the faculty members were involved in something other than a bona fide professional enterprise throughout the course of their assessment. There is no evidence that the faculty members’ grading of Mr. Novak’s Preliminary Examination was anything other than an honest, professional evaluation of his potential for the particular program in which he was enrolled. In other words, the evidence of record is insufficient to support a finding that the professors’ stated reasons for failing Mr. Novak’s various Day 3 submissions were deliberately false—a mask for a decision based on discriminatory grounds. Indeed, the record here shows that the defendants afforded Mr. Novak many accommodations to ensure that his disability did not interfere with his having a fair opportunity to meet the University’s standards for this particular program. On this basis, the district court correctly determined that the University’s motion for summary judgment should be granted.”
14-2663 Novak v. Board of Trustees
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, Gilbert, J., Ripple, J.